by Mark Hooten, the Garden Whiz
About the Author
Mark Hooten has been fascinated by horticulture since childhood, with interests including tropical fruits, cacti, ethnobotany, entheogens, and variegates. Having been employed in both FL and CA by botanical gardens and specialist nurseries as horticulturist, manager, propagator, and consultant, he is happy to speak with fellow plant worshipers at TopTropicals Nursery. Mark is currently busy writing a volume on the complicated history of croton varieties. His passions are plants, cats, and art of painting.
Recently, I was asked what my favorite Euphorbia might be. It's a pretty big question as it's one of the world's largest genera/families, so I said I would give it some thought, which I did. I mean, this is a huge group of plants, including members which range from being frail and relatively delicate such as Poinsettia's, to being some of the most indestructible of succulent growing things such as the cactus-like Euphorbia ingens and Euphorbia obesa. Also included in this family would be the nearly endless array of (to me at least) the world's most colorful and mind-blowingly exotic plants, the fancy crotons! However, if i stick with the TRUE Euphorbia's, I think I have to say that a strange little species from a tiny speck of Madagascar, hardly known in cultivation called Euphorbia decaryi var. spirosticha is probably my favorite. I was given this one over 30 years ago. It actually has no particular features which make it special, yet somehow, in some ineffable way, it really is outstanding.
Apparently, this is a highly endangered species found today in a habitat about the size of an average Walmart parking lot... a tiny little creeping semi-succulent thing with equally tiny, crinkly, thick leaves which slowly form a mound over time. The plant in the image, which is in a six inch Japanese bonsai pot, is currently over 30 years old! Meaning I have grown it since 1987 (according to the date on a tag i found buried in the pot when i went to re-pot it a few months ago). It had come from a wonderful rare plant friend no longer with us, now gardening in a better place.
Perhaps approaching the New Years Season makes me appreciate the plant people I've known. It also made me take stock of the great plants I've had for the longest time. Doing so, I've come to realize that I care for over a handful of potted plants which I have owned for a number of decades. This Euphorbia spirosticha is one of them.
My point is, i wonder about other folks' special plants which they have kept for so long they seem like family members. So I 'll ask any of our online friends to send us images and brief histories of some special plant which they have cared for and loved for a LONG TIME! You know, heirloom type plants. We would love to share stories and pictures of these special plants with others...